The St. Louis County Board has unanimously approved its 2024 budget at $491,590,952. The budget supports key investments to ensure delivery of the county's broad range of services across departments while also factoring in significant inflationary impacts.
Among the notable points reflected in next year's budget are critical investments in staffing to support service delivery; investments in a variety of economic development programs to support job growth, housing, blight removal and film incentives. This budget also makes critical investments in buildings and equipment, The Depot, and youth programming. It also provides financial support for the Land and Minerals Department until new state law can be passed to address sales of tax forfeited properties. It ensures county departments are in compliance with statutory requirements for mandated services, and preserves the county's strong financial position.
Commissioner Keith Nelson, who chairs the Finance Committee for the Board, highlighted the importance of recent investments and their results, "Our roads have never been in better shape than they are right now. That doesn't just happen."
He concluded, "Am I happy with the budget and levy? I always want it to be better. But is this as good as we can do given the cards we've been dealt? I believe it is."
Approximately a third of the budget is funded by the property tax levy. The final levy was approved at $168.1 million, which is a 2.93% increase from this year.
The Board also voted to update its standing rules and bylaws to ensure meetings proceed in an efficient way, reducing wait times for people scheduled to speak as part of the agenda. To do this, the Board now will set aside a 30-minute period, from 9:30-10 a.m. prior to each meeting, to allow citizens opportunity to speak on topics that aren't on the agenda. Citizens will be allowed up to three minutes each. If there are more people wanting to speak than can fit in a half hour, then the comment period will resume after all other Board activity has ended. The Board meeting will then begin at 10 a.m.
This change only applies to citizens wanting to speak on items not on the agenda. People will continue to be welcome to address commissioners on items on the agenda during Board meetings.